By Telfed Chair, Batya Shmukler
At this time in the year, the word that seems to come to mind is ‘uncertainty’.
So much has changed in recent months and we are slowly adjusting to a new way of living. I have witnessed events over the past few months that I could not have imagined.
At Telfed we have adapted to meet this new, strange reality. From the onset when Israel began its lockdown, Telfed’s services were categorised by the Israeli government as essential allowing our office to remain open and fully operational throughout the pandemic. During this time, we saw an increase in requests for assistance, adjusted our Aliyah procedures, switched to virtual events and adapted our volunteering programmes to comply with government guidelines.
Our community continues to come together in support of one another, Aliyah numbers have been increasing from around the world, and our Pras scholarship students and volunteers have been dropping off welcome parcels outside the doors of new Olim who have gone straight into quarantine. In our recent ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign, government grants that were donated to needy Olim were immediately transferred to over 400 members of our community in order to assist them during this difficult time. I have been filled with an overwhelming sense of pride by the generosity of spirit within our community.
Our Olim continue to reach new heights, inspiring us with their remarkable contributions to society. Following the signing of the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, it was a South African-born Oleh, Captain Tal Becker, who captained the maiden ElAl flight to Abu Dhabi.
Recently, we lost a valued member of our community and a Telfed stalwart, Cape-born Annette Milliner Giladi z”l. Annette was a champion of Zionism and Aliyah, and served our community as a dedicated volunteer for over 4 decades, including a term as vice-chairman of Telfed. Annette was the recipient of the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Integration’s Award of Appreciation for Olim for Extraordinary Contributions to Society and the State. Her son Stanley wrote, ‘Annette would leave no stone unturned to help anyone who was in need, irrespective of who they were, but G-d help anyone who spoke out against Israel. Her love of Israel was trumped only by her love for her family.’
Rosh Hashanah is a time of new beginnings. This year, we will begin the New Year with many unknowns but also with hope and courage. One certainty is that we have a strong, resilient organisation that is committed to doing whatever is necessary to support our community. To learn more about our remarkable organisation, I invite you to visit our website: www.telfed.org.il. I would like to use this opportunity to extend my appreciation to our Telfed family, dedicated staff, lay leaders and volunteers, and to the donors who continue to help us ensure that members of our Olim community have food to eat and a roof over their heads.
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